Using materials from miniPCR—whose equipment was also used for student-designed projects on the space station—students in AP Biology successfully transformed bacterial cells with rings of DNA called plasmids and used CRISPR (pronounced “crisper”) technology to disable one of the bacterial genes.
CRISPR techniques are used by scientists to precisely edit genes in a variety of organisms, including humans. Why? To make plants more nutritious or resistant to climate change, fight cancer, or use gene therapy to "cure" genetic disorders like sickle cell anemia or cystic fibrosis.
Using a knockout transformation lab kit, students transformed the cells, which knocked out the ability of the bacteria to make an enzyme that breaks down a sugar substitute into a blue product. Knockout bacteria that have had their gene disabled are not able to break down this sugar and stay white in color.
SCH Biology courses continue to be on the cutting edge of science technology and education, where they are able to apply their coursework to real-world issues.